Consumer Group Calls On D.C. “Tort Reform” Group To Comply With State Campaign Financing Law

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

For Immediate Release:
February 6, 2007
Contact: Katina Cummings, CJ&D Illinois
            312/644-8442       or
Joanne Doroshow, CJ&D

Chicago, IL – The Center for Justice & Democracy-Illinois (CJ&D) today called on the Washington, D.C.-based American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) to immediately submit financial reports related to its contributions to 2006 Illinois judicial candidates, which they apparently failed to do.  Noting that the group, along with a coalition called American Justice Partnership of which ATLA is a “national partner,” made “sizeable contributions to judicial candidates in our state” and created “great concern to many citizens here,” the CJ&D-Illinois letter states, “At a minimum, you have a duty to be accountable to the citizens of this state by following the letter and spirit of our state’s election laws pertaining to the reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures.”
In 2006, both ATRA and AJP, national out-of-state corporate-backed organizations dedicated to weakening the civil justice system, donated significant funds to judicial candidates in Illinois. However, neither organization met the deadline to register to do so under the Illinois Election Code, or filed expenditure reports.  ATRA’s members have included global corporations and trade associations representing the tobacco, insurance, pharmaceutical, automobile, airlines, oil, gas, and chemical industries, among others.
CJ&D-Illinois sent a letter to ATRA today, requesting the national trade association to voluntarily offer to pay any civil penalties which may be imposed upon them for the delinquent or non-filing of all required financial reports, as set forth in the Election Code and its accompanying regulations.  The letter concludes:  “Strict public disclosure of campaign finances, as our law mandates, is intended to paint an untarnished picture of who is trying to buy political influence in Illinois—and for how much.” 
“Most Americans know that the obscene spending by out-of-state corporate special interests in our judicial elections is designed to serve their narrow interests and thereby tip the scale of justice against the public interest.  Politics does not belong in the courtroom,” said Katina Cummings, Staff Director of CJ&D-Illinois. “Illinoisans do not want judges to have to look over their shoulder to calculate how their decisions might play with corporate-backed entities like this.”

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